With states now facing pandemic-impacted budgets, some are looking at expanding gambling as a way to make up the difference. Since 2018, when a federal statute restricting regulated sports betting was ruled unconstitutional, more than a quarter of all states have legalized sports betting in some fashion. Three bills have been filed in Florida to legalize sports wagering. Now cruise lines are looking at the same tool to help them recover from more than a year of no cruises.
Princess Cruises announced plans to become the first cruise line to offer onboard sports wagering. Betting will take place via a custom app onboard all MedallionClass ships. Princess has pushed its mobile and tech offerings in recent years with its Ocean Medallion program. The medallions are similar to Disney’s MagicBands with an RFID-enabled chip that enables touchless interactions. The quarter-size medallions are linked to a custom app on which passengers can order food or beverages, find others in their party, use interactive maps, watch television, and play games.
Multiple casino games are also available via the Ocean Casino app developed via a partnership with gaming technology firm Miomni. The Ocean Casino app, part of the OCEAN Guest Experience Platform, will now include a sports wagering section.
“A fully connected guest experience now goes well beyond a superior Wi-Fi position, and Ocean Sportsbook reinforces the unparalleled position MedallionClass enjoys in the industry,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation. “Wagering is now seamlessly fused into the overall guest experience in both digital and physical interactions all powered by the OCEAN Guest Experience Platform.”
Like other onboard gambling, it will only be available when in international waters, or, according to Princess, “wherever permitted by law.” Guests will be able to bet on both sporting events that take place during their cruise and one future one that may occur after it. Princess’ MedallionClass ships have ship-wide Wi-Fi and are designed for passengers who want to remain connected to their devices.
Princess Cruises’ parent company Carnival Corp. is affiliated with the Miami Heat, so bets on NBA events involving the Heat are unavailable.
Carnival has so far limited the sports betting to its more upscale Princess Cruises. Sports betting is available on the MedallionClass ships. The cruise line has used the current pause to install the MedallionClass features onto more of its vessels with the full fleet to feature the technology. The cruise line has pushed touchless technology as a health advantage in the age of COVID.
Seeking Alpha’s senior editor, Clark Schultz, believes that sports betting will spread to other cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. All major cruise lines have onboard Wi-Fi making a move to mobile gaming easy.
Sports wagering is expected to continue increasing in the coming years. In 2019, Buffalo Wild Wings launched a partnership with MGM Resorts that allows diners in select locations to bet on games via MGM’s digital gaming platform, BetMGM. Dave & Buster’s has also expressed an interest in sports betting.
It’s still too early to know if Florida Senate Bill 392, which aims to legalize sports wagering in the state, will pass. The legislative session begins March 2.
This article first appeared at our sister publication Orlando Weekly.
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